Earthquake ‘swarm’ raises odds of stronger California quake to come
About 200 small earthquakes erupted deep inside the Salton Sea in California for over 24 hours earlier this week and there could be more quakes to come, state officials have warned.
Most of Southern California is on alert for earthquakes that could arrive in the next few days, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services announced Tuesday. Just three of the tremors that hit between Monday and Tuesday were above a 4.0 magnitude, the Los Angeles Times reported, but the area they hit is of pretty serious concern to experts.
“This is close enough to be in that worry zone,” seismologist Lucy Jones told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a part of California that the seismologists all watch.”
The area, about 60 miles north of the U.S. and Mexico border, is just below the tail end of the infamous San Andreas Fault. The rumblings on Monday and Tuesday were just the third time that area saw such a swarm of activity since sensors were placed there in 1932, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In fact, the earthquake swarm has significantly increased the chance of another quake in the next few days. There is between a .006 to 0.2 percent probability of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake along the San Andreas fault between now and Oct. 7, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, with the odds decreasing with time.”
“California is earthquake country. We must always be prepared and not let our guard down.”
“California is earthquake country. We must always be prepared and not let our guard down,” Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Office of Emergency Services, said in a statement Tuesday.
“The threat of an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault hasn’t gone away, so this is another important opportunity for us to revisit our emergency plans,” Ghilarducci said in a statement.
It’s hard to give earthquake warnings very far in advance since scientists can’t predict them and seismic shaking travels at about two miles per second, reports the U.S. Geological Survey.
The most sophisticated warning system in the world is in Japan, but it’s nowhere near perfect. When a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the country’s coast in 2011, Tokyo residents had just 80 seconds of warning before a tsunami hit, according to the MIT Technology Review. Over 15,000 people died in the disaster.
Despite the devastation, Japan’s new earthquake warning system is thought to have saved lives through its television and cell phones alerts, according to the MIT Technology Review. And 80 seconds actually isn’t that bad, with geological experts estimating that Californians wouldn’t even get that much time.
“An earthquake early warning system on the west coast of the United States could provide as much as 60 seconds advance warning prior to strong shaking,” reports the U.S. Geological Survey.
Right now there are eight counties across Southern California that could be impacted by an earthquake in the coming week, SFGate reported. The alert comes just as California is trying to give sooner earthquake warnings. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill creating an early earthquake warning program and advisory board, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
.@JerryBrownGov Signs Earthquake Early Warning Legislation #SB438 https://t.co/R8oKG8zo70 pic.twitter.com/Aq26ZMyuYZ
— Gov. Brown Press Ofc (@GovPressOffice) September 29, 2016
Gov. Brown funneled $10 million in state funds to the Office of Emergency Services earlier this year, for its efforts to build up the state’s early warning system, called ShakeAlert.
It’s estimated there’s a 99 percent chance a magnitude 6.7 earthquake will hit some part of California within the next 30 years, according to a study cited by the U.S. Geological Survey. The study also reports a 46 percent chance of a magnitude 7.5 quake hitting California over the next 30 years.
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